The World Bank


The World Bank is a specialized agency of the United Nations and is made up of 184 member countries. It is one of the world’s largest sources of development assistance, supporting the efforts of developing country governments to build schools and health centers, provide water and electricity, fight disease, and protect the environment. The Bank also provides leadership on global issues such as climate change, controlling communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS or the Avian Flu, strengthening the international financial architecture, or enhancing participation of developing countries in global trade. Some 10,000 development professionals from nearly every country in the world work in the World Bank’s Washington DC headquarters or in its 109 country offices. The Bank’s customers are developing countries, including poor and middle income countries.


In 1996 the President of the World Bank announced that lending alone could not achieve poverty reduction. Knowledge sharing and learning was seen to be the key to improving the Bank’s operational quality and effectiveness. Over time, the importance of knowledge and learning to the Bank’s mission has only increased, and Mr. R. Zoellick, the current President of the World Bank, declared it one of the six strategic priorities for the institution.

In line with this strategic direction, the Bank has focused on strengthening its capacity as a knowledge and learning organization. Strengthening staff skills to serve clients was recognized as critical to the Bank’s mission, and various initiatives were launched to that effect. While these initiatives had a major impact on the Bank’s capacity to assist clients, some challenges emerged:

  • The majority of learning and training at the bank was classroombased where instructors were flown in to deliver training using PowerPoint presentations. As a result training costs were high and the overall quality and the most effective pedagogical approaches were not always applied.
  • The Bank identified 12 different learning systems across the various offices each with different course topics and training content making it difficult for users to easily find relevant learning opportunities.
  • The use of several systems to manage, administer and deliver training prevented the Bank from tracking, monitoring or analyzing the impact and the overall effectiveness of learning.

Moving to a blended learning model supporting both online and classroombased learning was an obvious choice for the World Bank. However in order to move to this model they required a single, integrated, state of the art Learning Management System to manage, administer, track and monitor training to a globally dispersed workforce. It was also important that the solution could integrate with existing World Bank IT infrastructure and systems to provide a complete view of employee information within the LMS.


Following a rigorous and extensive tendering process the Bank selected WBT’s TopClass Learning Management system to power its learning initiative. Selection was based on best fit according to the Bank’s technical requirements with analytical capacity high on the priority list. The main features of the learning solution include:

  • A single integrated source for all learning that is easily accessed by employees via a single user interface, customized according to the World Bank’s needs
  • An online catalog of courses that is searchable and that provides a single point for registration making course administration speedy and efficient
  • Tracking and monitoring functionality to manage the Bank’s annual learning budget including training spend, allocations, approvals and department charge backs for training costs
  • Flexible approval and workflow processes with notifications via the TopClass internal email function and integration with Lotus Notes, for those courses that require manager’s approval
  • Integration with Business Objects for robust and detailed reporting on all operational training areas including management of cost centers and charge-backs
  • Integration with SAP and PeopleSoft to link employee training records with HR and financial information
  • Supporting the delivery of a wide variety of courses and content formats such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, HTML and text, for course types that include technology and computer skills to interpersonal, management, client engagement skills, and technical skills.


Since implementing WBT’s TopClass Learning Management System the World Bank has achieved some very important benefits:

The quality of learning activities has improved – using blended learning approaches, which are supported by the LMS, courses are now increasingly designed so that participants can familiarize themselves with the training materials prior to a course- – using the LMS’s on-line learning functionality, leaving room for richer and more in-depth conversations when learning participants meet during the face-to-face part of their training program.

The administration of learning has considerably improved – today the World Bank delivers 3,000 learning activities annually. They have a single system to power learning for the entire organization. This means that staff have a single point of access to find up to date training opportunities; learning administrators have a comprehensive system to support all the functions related to the organization and management of learning; and managers have the tools to support the professional development of their staff.

The analysis of learning data is significantly strengthened – through the integration of TopClass with Business Objects, the Bank’s capacity to monitor the inputs, outputs, and outcomes of its learning program has made tremendous progress. This provides both management and pedagogic staff with the information needed to increase both the strategic relevance and the quality of learning programs.


“The LMS from WBT Systems has helped to transform learning at the World Bank. Its extensive functionality and reporting capability means that we now have a much enhanced capacity to monitor and assess investments in learning, a better understanding of what works, and we are better able to focus on areas where we can improve. This is critical to the Bank’s mission and to ensure that staff can assist clients with the best global knowledge available to address their development challenges.”
Jan Weetjens, Staff Knowledge and Learning Manager, World Bank